When ISIS crazies promise to raise their flag over Washington DC, you might picture some kind of foreign invasion and shrug off the threat as idle bombast. But I don’t think they’re talking about an attack from overseas. I think they’re picturing something much more insidious – a campaign from within.
In the most unlikely parts of America, there are homegrown Islamic insurrectionists working to spread their toxic doctrine. Some are known to the watchdogs assigned to protect Americans from terrorists. Some are not.
Most Muslims are like most Christians and most Jews – peaceful and reasonable people worshiping their Creator in the way they find most fulfilling. But the Islamic zealots pose a special threat to the rest of the world. As I understand it, the extremists interpret Islamic dogma to include a mission to conquer the earth. There is even a mandate to “kill the infidel.”
I don’t often agree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he made a valid point in a recent address to the UN. He said the Islamic extremists regard their religion as a master faith in the same way the Nazis conceived Aryans as the “master race.” And, he argued, they pose the same kind of threat to the world.
Throughout the West, extremist Islamic clerics are preaching this doctrine – and have been for years. I suspect that young immigrants from Muslim countries, who tend to be dark skinned, become easy prey for these clerics because of the racist slurs and affronts they experience. I am sure you remember all those “Paki jokes,” for example.
The conversion of these young people is also enabled by economic and social conditions that make them feel disregarded and unwanted. As social and economic injustice increases in the West, a fertile breeding ground is created for disenchantment and hate.
In America, clerics like Ahmad Musa Jibril of Dearborn, Michigan have developed a significant following over the years through their incendiary lectures and their messages in social media. The Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence calls Jebril the most popular inspirational figure for Western fighters flocking to join ISIS.
This is a perplexing situation. Obviously, there is much to fear. Theirs is a doctrine of terror and barbarism, and it cannot be permitted to prevail.
But I doubt that it can be defeated with violence. I believe it can only be countered by enlightenment.
While the authorities must obviously take steps to root out the potential terrorists and the dangerous clerics who inspire them, we must beware of demonizing the Muslim faith and the millions who practice it peacefully and harmlessly.
Ultimately, it is love that conquers hate, tolerance that defeats dogma, acceptance that cures alienation.